RONALD T. JOELLA Appellant
from the Order Entered January 10, 2019 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Northampton County Civil Division at No(s):
BEFORE: MURRAY, J., STRASSBURGER, J., and PELLEGRINI, J.
T. Joella (Landlord) appeals from the order entered in the
Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County (trial court)
denying his motion for partial judgment on the pleadings and
granting the cross-motion for partial judgment on the
pleadings filed by Annie Cole (Tenant). We affirm.
derive the following facts and procedural history from our
independent review of the record. On March 19, 2018, Landlord
filed a complaint against Tenant, a former tenant in a
residential apartment building.The complaint included one count
for negligence alleging that Tenant's negligent use of an
extension cord caused a fire resulting in extensive damage to
Landlord's property ($180, 000.00). Specifically,
Landlord averred that Tenant had run an extension cord across
the hinges of a cabinet to a microwave, causing damage to the
cord, which eventually ignited nearby combustibles. Tenant
filed an answer with new matter raising affirmative defenses,
including waiver and estoppel.
then filed a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings
requesting the court to dismiss the waiver and estoppel
defenses. Tenant answered that motion and in turn filed a
cross-motion for partial judgment on the pleadings requesting
the court to make a finding that Landlord and his insurer are
barred from recovering against Tenant for the fire loss at
the property. She argued that pursuant to the language of the
lease, Landlord was required to maintain fire insurance for
her protection and that she was, therefore, an implied
co-insured under Landlord's insurance
lease provides, in relevant part:
10.UTILITIES AND SERVICES.
* * *
Landlord shall be responsible for the
following utilities and services in connection with
the above premises: . . . Insurance on the
11. PROPERTY INSURANCE. Tenant has
the right to maintain fire and casualty insurance on
the premises to cover their personal
possessions, which are not covered by the
Landlord's fire insurance. They can talk to an insurance
company concerning renters insurance to cover their
(Real Estate Lease, at 1-2) (emphases added).
hearing arguments, the trial court denied Landlord's
motion but granted Tenant's cross-motion, finding that
Landlord could not maintain an action against Tenant in
subrogation for property damage because under the terms of
the lease, the reasonable expectation of the parties is that
she would be an implied co-insured under Landlord's
policy. Landlord then timely filed this appeal.
appeal, Landlord contends that the trial court erred in
finding that Tenant was an implied co-insured under
Landlord's insurance policy. Before we address this
issue, it is necessary to give some background of the various
approaches of whether a landlord, through its ...